Applying for a New License (Teen Drivers) in Kentucky
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Applying for a Teen License in Kentucky
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet uses the graduated licensing program (GLP) to ease new drivers into the process of obtaining a Kentucky driver's license.
As part of this program, there are specific rules and requirements for drivers younger than 18 years old. To begin, you will need to attend a driver’s education course and obtain your learner’s permit. See “KY Graduated Licensing Program" below.
You have 30 days to transfer your out-of-state driver's license after moving to Kentucky. To obtain your Kentucky driver's license or learner's permit, you must be:
- At least 16 years old.
- A U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
Visit the office of your local KY circuit court clerk and:
- Present your valid out-of-state driver's license.
- If younger than 18 years old, submit a School Compliance Verification Form signed by your out-of-state school district.
- Proof of your Kentucky residency.
- Your non-laminated Social Security card.
- Your birth certificate, if requested.
- A copy of your driving record or a clearance letter, if your license has been expired for at least 1 year.
- Pass the written and vision tests, if your out-of-state license is expired.
- Pay the driver's license or permit fee.
NOTE: Individuals under 18 years old with an out-of-state driver's license must complete a GLP course, unless you have previously completed an equivalent course.
In Kentucky, if you're under 18 years old, you must complete the graduated licensing program, which consists of the following phases:
- Learner's permit.
- Driver's education.
- Provisional license.
- Full unrestricted driver's license.
This process will help you build important defensive driving skills and reduce your chances of being in a traffic accident.
You must meet the following requirements before you are eligible for each phase of the GLP:
- Learner's permit: 16 years old.
- Provisional driver's license: Eligible after holding a learner's permit for 180 days.
- Full unrestricted driver's license: Eligible after holding an intermediate/provisional license for 180 days.
You must be at least 16 years old to apply for your Kentucky learner's permit. Be sure to study the KY driver’s manual to prepare for the DMV written test. If you want to enhance your chances of passing the exam on your first attempt we suggest trying an online practice test from our certified partner.
To apply for your learner's permit in Kentucky, you must visit your local KY circuit court clerk’s office and:
- Provide your original or certified birth certificate.
- Provide your Social Security card.
- Show proof of your KY residency.
- Have your parent/guardian sign your learner's permit application.
- Legal guardians must provide a certified copy of guardianship papers.
- Pass written and vision tests.
- Pay the Kentucky learner's permit fee.
- Contact your circuit court for specific fee details.
Kentucky Learner's Permit Driving Restrictions
While you have your learner's permit, you are restricted to driving:
- Only while supervised by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old.
- Only between 6 a.m. and 12 a.m., unless for an emergency,or school/work-related purposes.
- With no more than 1 passenger who is under 20 years old, unless they are a family member.
Your KY learner's permit is valid for 3 years, and you must hold it for at least 180 days without any moving violations before moving to the next stage.
You'll also need to complete:
- 60 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours at night.
- An approved Driver’s Ed course.
After you've held your learner's permit for at least 180 days, you can make an appointment to take the road skills test and apply for a provisional license.
Before taking your driving test, you must:
- Have completed 60 hours of driving practice, including 10 hours of nighttime driving.
- Have successfully completed a Driver’s Ed course.
If you do not pass the DMV road test, you must wait at least 1 week to retake it. If you fail the road test 6 times, you'll need to wait an additional 6 months.
Contact your Kentucky circuit court clerk directly for more information on how to apply for an intermediate driver's license, including related fees.
Provisional License Restrictions
Drivers under 18 years old who hold an intermediate driver's license in Kentucky may NOT drive:
- Between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m. except in emergencies, and school- or work-related activities.
- With more than 1 passenger who is unrelated and younger than 20 years old.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of fatal accidents among young drivers. Learn more about the dangers of distracted driving here.
If you're under 18 years old with an intermediate driver's license, you must complete one of the following driver's education programs before applying for a full, unrestricted driver's license in Kentucky:
- Graduated licensing course offered by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
- High school Driver's Ed course.
- Private driver training course at an approved driver training school.
For more information about driver's education, visit our Driver’s Ed in Kentucky page.
You will also need to complete 60 hours of behind-the-wheel driving practice, including 10 hours at night.
Once you've completed the above and held your Kentucky provisional license for a minimum of 180 days, you're able to apply for your Kentucky driver's license. You must visit your county circuit court clerk and:
- Show proof of completion of your Driver’s Ed program.
- Provide a Graduated Licensing Eligibility letter.
- Provide your birth certificate, Social Security number, and proof of residency.
- Have your parent or legal guardian sign your application if you're under 18 years old.
- Pay the driver's license fee.
- For more details, contact your local circuit court clerk.
Follow our new Kentucky driver's license checklist to track your steps.
Driver's License Restrictions
If you're younger than 21 years old and just obtained a full KY driver's license, you are subject to the 0.02% blood alcohol content “Zero Alcohol Tolerance" law.
Your driver's license will be suspended if you are:
- Younger than 18 years old and receive more than 6 points on your KY driving record.
- Older than 18 years old and record 12 points on your KY driving record.
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